According to a New York Times article written by Jane E. Brody, “Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older people. Every 19 minutes in this country, an older person dies from a fall.”
In our part of the country we spend many months dealing with ice and snow. That alone is causing more slips and falls. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “falling once doubles their chances of falling again.”
Brody also writes; “there are many factors common among older people that can increase the risk of falling: medical and orthopedic problems and the medications taken to treat them, physical changes that impair balance, gait and muscle strength, sensory declines in vision and hearing and awareness of body position; and pain that distorts body movements. One fall in five among older adults’ results in serious injury, and older people are less able to recover from the trauma physically and emotionally.”
There are several ways to help prevent falls. Regular exercise, keeping up with both vision and hearing checks on a yearly basis, and reviewing your medications with your pharmacist to assure there are none that may cause dizziness or even drowsiness.
You also want to take a good look at your living space both inside and out. Is there clutter on the floor, loose rugs, cords across the walking space? Is your lighting adequate, especially in the hallways and bathrooms? Are there grab bars in the shower and by the toilet? Do you have steps going into your home? Are they in good condition with a sturdy handrail? Is your walkway clear of debris and in good condition?
Any and all these basic things to look for could help to prevent a fall that could change your life. Be safe.
There are times when a person would like to have an extra set of eyes to come to their home to assess for safety. That is where a Caregiver Support Coach or Geriatric Care Manager can be a great help. They are trained to assist a person in ways to stay in their home safely and make recommendations of how to do this. Sometimes a professional can pick out things that a person doesn’t notice when it is in their own home. There may be repairs that are needed and it can be overwhelming knowing where to turn first. A Caregiver Coach or Geriatric Care Manager can assist in finding the right resources in the community to provide what may be needed to help stay home longer.
Falls are often the main reason a person must leave their home. The injury often puts the elder in the hospital and then in Transition Care for therapy and then dependent on the extent of the injury, Assisted Living. If some of these obstacles can be removed ahead of time, and improvements that are needed taken care of, that may make all the difference in the world.